With Independence Day approaching, what better excuse to bring out the barbecue and enjoy some time outside in the fresh air with family and friends.

If you are worried about high-calorie, high-fat sausages and burgers; don't panic. There are several meats, fish, vegetables and even fruit which are delicious and healthy when cooked on the barbecue.

Try cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, peppers, eggplant, pineapple chunks and even apple slices. Simply put your chosen combination onto skewers, brush with a little olive oil, or find a reduced calorie marinade, and grill over the barbecue until the meat is cooked and tender and the vegetables are roasted and charred around the edges.

For a healthy meat option, you can use chicken breasts marinated with two tablespoons of clear honey, one and a half tablespoons of soy sauce, juice from one lime and two cloves of garlic.

Stir these ingredients together and leave overnight before you place on the barbecue. I also recommend using salmon either as an addition or as a great alternative to meat. Place a whole fillet onto a sheet of foil large enough to make a parcel. You can slice half a lemon and layer over the top of the salmon, squeezing the other half over the fish. This is delicious served with natural, low fat yogurt, salad and crusty wholemeal bread.

In true Israeli style, make sure your barbecue consists of healthy and delicious sweet corn. Try to resist the temptation for lashings of butter, instead try a little salt.

One delicacy to really impress your guests and boost your vitamin intake is barbecued asparagus. Simply take a bunch, trim the bottoms, mix in a tablespoon of olive oil and season with freshly milled salt and pepper. Leave on the grill for 2-3 minutes or until the desired tenderness.

For dessert, you can make up a bowl of fresh fruit salad. Alternatively, while the charcoal is dying down, place some bananas (in their skins) wrapped in tin foil on the shelf and leave for about 10 minutes. When you unwrap them you’ll have a delicious banana dessert full of potassium.

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Q. I am preparing to eat a lot over the next few days with the lots of parties and barbecues planned. I usually always suffer from pain and burning in my upper abdomen after eating large meals.  Which herbs are useful to help reduce indigestion?

A. Ginger has been used for thousands of years as both a cooking spice and medicine to aid digestion. The underground stem of ginger, gingerols, are used since they act directly on the gastrointestinal system to reduce nausea and indigestion. They do this by stimulating and toning the digestive muscle to reduce irritation of the intestinal walls. I suggest taking between 2g and 4g of the fresh underground stem daily for indigestion.

I have had particularly good results using liquorice to treat indigestion. Try drinking liquorice tea following the meal. People with heart disease, kidney problems, liver damage, hypertension or diabetes shouldn't take liquorice at all.

Many herbalists often recommend caraway seeds for indigestion. Try infusing 1 tsp. of crushed caraway seeds in a cup of boiling water and steep for 10 minutes. Caraway seeds work to soothe the digestive tract and promote gastric secretion.

Q. Do olives have any nutritional value?

A. I selected to answer this question from the vast array of questions received since the Olive branch represents a symbol of peace, an appropriate fit for Independence Day. The olive branch first appears as a symbol of peace from the biblical story of Noah’s ark. Olives are also one of the seven native ancient Israel fruits.

Green olives have a number of nutritional benefits due to their high content of vitamin E, flavonoids and monounsaturated fats. These monounsaturated fats work to fight against unhealthy cholesterol in the body and protect the heart and blood vessels.

Vitamin E and flavonoids fight against chemicals (free radicals) in the body that destroy the structure of cells and cause disease. Green olives are also a good source of dietary fiber. They can provide up to 17 percent of your daily fiber needs, which will in turn help lower cholesterol levels, protecting the blood vessels and the heart. Just be aware that green olives do contain a significant amount of sodium so for those with hypertension or on a low sodium diet, try to eat sparingly.

This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments.

This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.

Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer then email Natalie with your question at nateopath@gmail.com.

Natalie runs a clinic both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offering a wide range of natural treatment. Healing is achieved using homeopathy, reflexology, massage, flower remedies and nutritional wisdom.

To make an appointment please email nateopath@gmail.com.

Someone Once Said: 'Health and good humor are to the human body like sunshine to vegetation.'
- Massillon


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